GameChat – Brewers @ Twins #3 1:10 pm

The Twins need a win today to salvage a season split with their boarder buddies, the Milwaukee Brewers.  The Twins will have their work cut out for them this afternoon facing Milwaukee’s ace, Zack Greinke.  To make matters worse, if the Twins do manage to scrape out a couple of runs against Greinke, Minnesota will have to rely on a struggling Nick Blackburn to keep them in the game.  In his last two starts opponents have hit Blackburn to a line of .310/.370/.452 (BA/OBP/SLG), turning every hitter into the 2012 version of Angel Pagan.  And his line is even worse against current Brewers.  Tough to win ball games like that.

Matt Capps is out with a sore shoulder until at least Tuesday, but both Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau are in the lineup today for a very “unSunday Lineup” Sunday Lineup.

Here is the rest:

Milwaukee Brewers

@

Minnesota Twins
Aoki, RF Span, CF
Morgan, CF Revere, RF
Braun, LF Mauer, C
Ramirez, Ar, DH Willingham, LF
Hart, C, 1B Morneau, 1B
Green, T, 3B Plouffe, 3B
Weeks, 2B Doumit, DH
Ransom, SS Dozier, SS
Maldonado, C Carroll, 2B
_Greinke, P _Blackburn, P

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 R H E
Milwaukee 1 0 0 0 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 4 15 1
Minnesota 0 0 1 0 0 0 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 5 20 2

15 innings take a LONG time to play, 4 hours and 50 minutes with a rain delay thrown in for fun.

Nick Blackburn went just 6 innings, giving up 4 runs, all earned while throwing 101 pitches.    The Twins we down 4-1 heading into the bottom of the 7th and erupted for 3 runs to tie the game at 4.  That’s the way the score remained for 8 more innings before a Denard Span RBI single in the bottom of the 15th scored Brian Dozier from 3B.

For 9 innings of scoreless work, the Minnesota Twins bullpen (Nearly ALL of them, Burnett, Burton, Perkins, Duensing, Gray and Swarzak) falls just short of Father’s Day BOD honors.  As a consolation prize, LeCroy24Fan has agreed to mail them $300 to share. Enjoy it.

His 4/8 performance, with a double and game winning RBI earn Denard Span the coveted BOD.

Denard Span thanking fans for the Father’s Day BOD.

The Twins are off tomorrow to rest their bullpen, and start a 6 game Inter-League road trip against the Pirates on Tuesday night.  Remember, no DH in games played in NL parks,  so if Mauer’s leg is still a little beat up he’ll likely get a couple extra days rest and his bat will be out of the lineup all together.

GameChat – Brewers @ Twins #2, 1:10pm

So Dave St. Peter assures us that the game will go on and our favorite Twins Fan Weather Forecaster says that the game might be a damp affair but should get off too so I feel confident between the two of them that the plan is to play baseball in Minnesota this afternoon.

In lineup news, Mauer is out today with a tight hamstring BUT Morneau is back so that’s good right? And Liam Hendriks is back. I’m hoping for a good outing but I honestly don’t know what to expect. It could be interesting. I hope he’s ready.

Milwaukee

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Minnesota
Aoki, RF Span, CF
Morgan, CF Revere, RF
Braun, LF Willingham, DH
Ramirez, Ar, 3B Morneau, 1B
Kottaras, DH Doumit, C
Weeks, 2B Plouffe, 3B
Green, T, 1B Dozier, SS
Ransom, SS Mastroianni, LF
Maldonado, C Carroll, 2B
  Fiers, P   Hendriks, P
  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Milwaukee 0 2 2 0 1 1 0 0 0 6 10 0
Minnesota 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 2 6 2

Remember way back last week when the Twins were winning games? Yeah… those were good days. The never ending search for starting pitching moves on.

GameChat – Brewers @ Twins, 7:10 pm

No Justin Morneau tonight… he’s out with a sore forearm. Should be no problem because the “good” Frankie Liriano is back in town, right?

BREWERS

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TWINS
Aoki, RF Span, CF
Gomez, CF Revere, RF
Braun, LF Mauer, 1B
Ramirez, Ar, 3B Willingham, LF
Hart, C, 1B Doumit, DH
Weeks, DH Plouffe, 3B
Ransom, SS Dozier, SS
Maldonado, C Butera, C
Maysonet, 2B Casilla, A, 2B
  _Gallardo, P   _Liriano, P
  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Milwaukee 0 0 0 0 0 3 0 0 2 5 5 0
Minnesota 0 0 0 0 2 1 0 0 0 3 10 0

If contending teams are looking at what the Twins might have to offer, Francisco Liriano showed them a little something, anyway. Those walks continue to kill, though. Then again, Matt Capps also showed his own Achilles heel giving up a home run in the top of the 9th inning to lose the game.

It sure is fun watching Trevor Plouffe hit, though, isn’t it? Two more home runs tonight. Pretty amazing.

GameChat – Philies @ Twins #3, 7:10

So the game is likely to go on tonight if at all possible even if delayed – partially because weather folk say the likely continuing heavy rain is likely to be south of the inner cities and partially because when you have an interleague opponent in town, you don’t really want to try to reschedule that! So cross your fingers.

Update from yesterday: PJ Walters has been put on the DL and Lester Oliveros has been brought up. I do think that we’ll see Liam Hendriks make a return as well.

For tonight, we’ll have to see how the remarkable, young Scott Diamond is able to do in the damp conditions. I’d really love to have someone who knows speak to how the field conditions effect play at Target Field…

Philadelphia

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Minnesota
Rollins,   SS   Span, CF
Polanco,   3B   Revere, RF
Pence,   RF   Mauer, C
Thome,   DH   Willingham, LF
Victorino,   CF   Morneau, DH
Ruiz,   C   Plouffe, 3B
Wigginton,   1B   Parmelee, 1B
Mayberry,   LF   Casilla, A, 2B
Martinez, M, 2B   Carroll, SS
Blanton,   P   Diamond, P

 

  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Philadelphia 0 1 3 0 0 0 0 1 1 6 8 0
Minnesota 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 7 0

I honestly didn’t pay much attention to this game after the home run in the 3rd inning. It’s nice that Trevor Plouffee hit another bomb, I guess. Other than that, there’s not much to  say positive about this night that I can tell.

Bring on the Brewers. – JC

The Late Great Harmon Killebrew

For those going to the Twins games during the next three days, you will get a special treat. Starting today, on the main concourse inside gate 34, there will be a display of Harmon Killebrew’s personal memorabilia collection. It may be your last chance to see some of these items – unless you take one of them home!

All these items will go up for auction in Kansas City during the All-Star Game on July 10th.

It makes me wonder if the auction is actually going to be DURING the game or if the players who are going will miss their chance to get some of the items. I’ll have to check on that…

At any rate, YOU will actually have the opportunity to bid on these items as well. There are three different ways you could participate:

  1. by Phone at 610-524-0822
  2. Online at www.huntauctions.com 
  3. or you could GO Live in person at the July 10th Auction in Kansas City

If you check out the auction site, they have some other auctions baseball fans might be interested in as well but Harmon, yeah, his personal collection seems like an awfully special category. And if like me, buying more stuff just isn’t on your ToDo list, you can still check it all out at Target Field!

 

GameChat – Phillies @ Twins, 7:10 pm

Big Jim Thome returns to Target Field tonight, but now he’s wearing a Phillies uniform and we’re all hoping he doesn’t take aim at that flag pole on Target Plaza again.

The Twins’ first draft pick, Byron Buxton took some batting practice swings this afternoon and reportedly managed to launch a ball in to the bullpens. It sounds like he’s all but signed, pending a physical, so he’ll be getting some playing time on one or both of the Twins’ short season teams yet this summer.

Nick Blackburn takes the mound tonight against the Phils, who are coming off a couple of extra-inning losses to the Orioles in a row. Let’s hope they just keep right on losing!

PHILLIES

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TWINS
Rollins, SS Span, CF
Pierre, LF Revere, RF
Pence, RF Mauer, C
Thome, DH Willingham, LF
Victorino, CF Morneau, 1B
Wigginton, 1B Doumit, DH
Ruiz, C Plouffe, 3B
Fontenot, 3B Dozier, SS
Martinez, M, 2B Carroll, 2B
  _Kendrick, K, P   _Blackburn, P
  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Philadelphia 0 0 0 4 0 3 0 0 0 7 14 1
Minnesota 1 4 0 1 2 1 2 0 x 11 17 0

Well that was an interesting game. From the moment Denard Span opened things up with a leadoff home run in the first inning to the point where Matt Capps completed the first 1-2-3 inning by a Twins pitcher, you never really had the feeling the game was in hand.

We won’t mention most of the rest of the pitchers, but there was certainly enough offense spread up and down the line up. Span walked three times to go with his HR and scored three runs. Ben Revere had three hits and 2 RBI, Jamie Carroll added three hits and a pair of RBI, as well, and added a couple of runs scored. Ryan Doumit had three hits and scored a pair of runs. Joe Mauer had a pair of hits and two RBI. And Josh Willingham added his 12th home run of the season.

But even with all of that competition, Trevor Plouffe is adding yet another Boyfriend of the Day award to his collection. Plouffe had three hits, including a double and a home run, scored three runs and drove in three more!

Trevor Plouffe

 

Will Past Be Prologue?

I’m kinda confused.

I am getting the overwhelming sense that far too many so-called Twins “fans” are actually rooting against the team right now. Why? Because they’re apparently afraid that if the Twins continue to win games at their recent rate, they’ll pull themselves up out of the AL Central Division cellar and perhaps even within shouting distance of whatever sorry excuse for a Division Leader happens to be sitting atop the Division as July nears. These “fans” think that might cause General Manager Terry Ryan to exercise undue restraint when other GMs come calling to inquire about the availability of current Twins players on the trade market.

Yes, that’s right… a significant segment of the fanbase doesn’t want to see the Twins win TOO much because they think the Twins can get significantly better in 2013 or 2014 by trading veterans for prospects this summer and they don’t give a damn how bad the resulting product on the field is for the rest of 2012.

My goodness, how things have changed in Twinsville.

Luis Castillo

I could have sworn we all (both fans and Twins players, themselves) spent most of the early to middle part of the past decade complaining that the front office was always looking toward “next year” when it came to making mid-season deals. Does anyone else remember the reaction from fans and the clubhouse when Luis Castillo was dealt to the Mets in 2007 with the Twins only a handful of games out of the Division lead? The players and many fans believed Torii and Johan and the others still had another run in them, but Terry Ryan dealt the team’s leadoff hitter anyway. Many people felt Hunter and Santana eventually left via Free Agency after that season in part because they didn’t believe the Twins would ever play for “now.”

With the limited revenue that the Twins’ Metrodome lease allowed, Terry Ryan always had to have one eye on the bottom line as he crafted his roster from one season to the next, but the promise of a new ballpark and the additional revenue streams that would come with it changed that perception. Finally, the Twins would be able to afford to pay for enough talent to make a run whenever they were on the edge of contention at mid-season.

So here we are, mid-way through the third season in that new ballpark and fans want Terry Ryan to hold a fire sale?

There are two reasons for teams to trade away veteran ballplayers at midseason. One is because someone who needs instant help this year is willing to give up prospects that the selling team believes will play key roles when they’re finally able to turn things around and contend themselves. The other is to shed payroll, which is often necessary because a bad team is not generating attendance and other revenue streams as had been hoped when the roster was built in the spring.

I hope we can all agree that the latter simply is not an acceptable reason for the Twins to trade anyone. There’s no shortage of cash in the Twins checking account right now. They did their payroll slashing before the season even started and that economizing, rather than paying to bring on better starting pitching, is the main reason this team isn’t living up to hopes this season.

That leaves the only reason for “selling” being to bring in high upside prospects that can play critical roles later. But how realistic is that, really?

I’m afraid some of these people clamoring for the Twins to sell off parts are significantly overestimating what Ryan can get for those parts. Remember the return he got for what was still a very productive leadoff hitter and second baseman in 2007? Castillo was batting .304 with 9 stolen bases, 54 runs and a .356 on-base percentage when he was traded to the Mets… for Dustin Martin and Drew Butera. How do you think people are going to feel if THAT’S the kind of return the Twins get for Denard Span? I, for one, will be pissed!

The Twins’ primary need, in their efforts to rebuild a competitive team, is starting pitching. Their hitting is fine. Their defense could be better, but it’s improved over last year. Their bullpen has been surprisingly solid. They need good starting pitching.

Does anyone really believe there are contending teams out there with such a surplus of good starting pitchers that they’re going to be willing to trade one of them for a Denard Span, a Ryan Doumit, or even a Justin Morneau? I don’t believe it for a heartbeat.

I also believe people are underestimating how competitive this team could be over the next year and a half. The biggest need is for better starting pitching and, unfortunately, that’s something that’s just not easy to come by. It’s certainly unlikely to be something acquired in a mid-season trade with a team looking to improve their ability to contend this season.

That being the case, I simply do not believe that you tear down other areas of your roster when you’re unlikely to improve the area most in need of help… not when there’s no economic reason to do so.

If there’s a GM out there willing to part with a high-ceiling starting pitcher that’s likely to contribute to the Twins at the Major League level in 2013 or at least by 2014, fine… see what it takes to get that player. But I don’t think it’s likely. More likely, potential trade partners will be offering up more of the Dustin Martin/Drew Butera level of prospect or simply offering to take on contracts without giving up any kind of prospects at all.

If that’s the best Terry Ryan can do, I’d rather just keep watching the guys wearing Twins uniforms right now for the rest of the season and see what they can do if a couple of these young pitchers keep getting hitters out the way they have been lately.

I know many fans disagree. But for those who are prevailing on the Twins to trade their veterans over the coming weeks , I have just a small bit of advice. Be careful what you wish for. Based on Terry Ryan’s history, you may just get it.

– JC

GameChat – Cubs @ Twins #3, 1:10 pm

Twins are going for the sweep today (gosh, that’s fun to type!).

We’ll find out whether Francisco Liriano can put together three good starts in a row since returning from his temporary exile to the bullpen. Ryan Dempster goes for the Cubs, so the Twins will need to make sure the assbats remain deep in storage to complete the sweep.

Speaking of returns from exile, word from the media is that we’re likely to see Liam Hendriks back with the Twins in time to start next Saturday’s game with the Brew Crew. The Aussie has been almost unhittable recently in Rochester, which makes him the logical choice to fill the fifth spot in the rotation.

But for now the focus is on today’s game with the Cubs. And if you happen to be in the mood for a little scoreboard watching, you might want to keep an eye on the score of the Royals’ game with the Pirates because a combination of a Twins win and a Royals loss will elevate our guys out of the AL Central basement for the first time in… well… I don’t know how long, but it’s been a LONG time.

CUBS

@

TWINS
Johnson, Re, LF Span, CF
Castro, S, SS Revere, RF
DeJesus, RF Mauer, DH
Soriano, A, DH Willingham, LF
Baker, Je, 1B Morneau, 1B
Mather, CF Plouffe, 3B
Barney, 2B Dozier, SS
Stewart, I, 3B Butera, C
Hill, K, C Carroll, 2B
  _Dempster, P   _Liriano, P
  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Chi Cubs 1 0 0 0 0 3 0 2 2 8 9 2
Minnesota 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 2 7 1

Sometimes you just have to tip your cap to an opponent and let’s be honest, Ryan Dempster can pitch a baseball really well. The Twins had no answer for Dempster and while Liriano threw pretty well through his first five innings, his sixth didn’t go well.

The Phillies, fresh off of losing two straight extra-inning games to the Orioles in Baltimore, are up next for the Twins. It will be good to see Jim Thome again… though I hope we don’t see him trotting around the bases the way he was known to do with the Twins.

GameChat – Cubs @ Twins #2, 1:10 pm

It turns out all of the Knuckelballs were AWOL last night, so we didn’t get a GameChat post up. Our apologies to anyone who came around looking to hang out during the game.

Maybe the most unfortunate part of not having a GameChat is that we missed an opportunity to award Josh Willingham a well-deserved BOD designation for his 10th inning walk-off heroics! So, we’ll make up for that right now by passing on that honor to Willy. A day late is better than never, right?

Josh Willingham

Now, on to today’s game.

The good news is that we see the return of Joe Mauer and Denard Span to the line up. Mauer has been out of action for almost a week with a sprained thumb, while Span has missed a couple of games with the flu (although he did make a cameo appearance as a pinch runner in the 9th inning Friday night).

We all know the Twins have been winning more regularly the past couple of weeks and that certainly makes their games more fun to watch. But here’s something you may not realize… the Twins are now 23-34 for a winning percentage of .404. This is the first time that Twins players are waking up to a day where they’ve won at least 40% of their games since the morning of September 14, 2011.

I realize that the reason for this stretch of wins has a lot to do with playing some pretty bad teams. But I’m also a baseball romantic so forgive me if I indulge myself, just for a little while, with the fantasy that it really does have something to do with the ‘M’ caps they’ve been sporting.

And they just beat the Cubs last night. For those of us who have to live amidst way too many Cub fans, that makes today a pretty good day.

CUBS

@

TWINS
Johnson, Re, LF Span, CF
Castro, S, SS Revere, RF
DeJesus, RF Mauer, C
Soriano, A, DH Willingham, LF
Baker, Je, 1B Morneau, 1B
Mather, CF Doumit, DH
Clevenger, C Plouffe, 3B
Barney, 2B Dozier, SS
Stewart, I, 3B Carroll, 2B
  _Samardzija, P   _Diamond, P
  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Chi Cubs 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 2 0 3 11 0
Minnesota 0 2 0 6 1 2 0 0 x 11 16 0

I gotta say, Nuke LaLoosh was right when he said, “I love winning. It’s like… better than losing!”

The Twins put another W on the board, this one in far less dramatic fashion than the game Friday night. The built up an 11-0 lead before the Cubs put up some meaningless runs late in the game off of Jeff Gray. Six different Twins had more than one hit, led by Joe Mauer who had three hits, and seven different hitters drove runs in. That’s a pretty balanced offensive attack. Jeff Manship (with his name spelled correctly on his jersey today) pitched a final shutout inning in the 9th.

But Boyfriend of the Day consideration really came down to two players. Scott Diamond threw six scoreless innings, spreading out 7 hits, while striking out five Cubs without issuing a single walk. Trevor Plouffe continued his hot hitting, with a double and a home run, totaling four RBI and scoring a couple of runs himself, and racking up five assists from his 3B position, just for good measure. For those performances, Scott and Trevor, you are our BODs.

Trevor Plouffe

Scott Diamond (photo: Genevieve Ross/AP)